Upland CRP acres available

State-specific, wildlife-targeted CRP programs currently available with competitive rates across the country

From The Outdoor Wire

While a Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) general signup hasn’t been scheduled for 2015, farmers and landowners do have current opportunities to explore eligibility in one of the many Continuous Conservation Reserve Program (CCRP) practices available. In particular, the State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement (SAFE) portion of CRP has more than 350,000 acres available for enrollment to landowners interested in creating and conserving upland habitat for pheasants, quail and other upland wildlife.

“CRP remains the most expansive, impactful conservation program in the country. Historically, landowners have looked to a general signup and its competitive bid process to enroll in the program. But landowners should consider SAFE acres, as well as other continuous programs, as valuable additions to existing contracts,” says Dave Nomsen, Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever’s vice president of government affairs. “CRP SAFE practices are the best thing going for pheasant and quail habitat creation. The programs are open until allocations are reached and they pay competitive rates. If landowners have an expiring CRP general contract, SAFE practices – or one of the other continuous CRP practices – are something they should strongly consider.”

Created nearly a decade ago, SAFE practices allowed states to design CRP practices that maintained the program’s hallmark soil and water conservation benefits while targeting specific wildlife species. Because of continued, and in some cases, rapid upland habitat loss, many states tailored their programs to benefit pheasants and quail. The nationwide SAFE allocation is 1.35 million acres. There are nearly 1 million acres enrolled in the various 100 SAFE practices across the country, leaving more than 350,000 available to landowners for enrollment. Among the SAFE practices geared specifically or primarily to the creation of pheasant and quail habitat include:

State                 SAFE Practice                         Acres Available for Enrollment*

Arkansas         Grass SAFE (quail)                        803

Iowa                 Pheasant Recovery                   22,524

Kansas             Upland Game Birds                    8,569

Missouri          Bobwhite Quail                               532

Nebraska         Upland Bird                               14,910

Oklahoma       Mixed Grass Prairies (quail)    8,081

South Dakota  Pheasants                                   14,432

*Statistics updated in January 2015 / Source: USDA

Continuous CRP Signup

Environmentally desirable land devoted to certain conservation practices may be enrolled in CRP at any time under continuous signup. Offers are automatically accepted provided the land and producer meet certain eligibility requirements and acres are available. Offers for continuous sign-up are not subject to competitive bidding. Continuous sign-up contracts are 10 to 15 years in duration. To offer land for continuous signup, producers or landowners should contact their Pheasants Forever or Quail Forever Farm Bill wildlife biologist or visit their local USDA Service Center.